Kevin Blacker on Hartford Prosecutors and Capitol Police

Kevin Blacker being handcuffed after protest at the meeting of the Connecticut Port Authority (CT Examiner/Hewitt)


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GUARD! GUARD! Lemme get some toilet paper up in here.” It seemed like an odd request shouted in a hey ma tone of voice, from a bent old black man in the cell with me. Un-amused, but also un-delayed a judicial marshal sauntered over. Roll of toilet paper in hand. 

Taking arm length after arm length of toilet paper. Everyone in the cell watching. It was a comical amount of toilet paper.  Half mumbling half to himself “I don’t give a fuck. This is some bull man. I’m cold. Gunna make me a blanket.”

I’d been arrested in Groton on a warrant the day before.  Accused of painting the doors of the State Capitol pink — in protest of the gross corruption, waste and public harm at State Pier. Capitol Police could have booked me in Groton. They chose to take me an hour in handcuffs on a hard plastic seat to Hartford. They had the power. They could have set the handcuffs to swivel allowing for a relatively painless ride.  They chose to crank them down and lock the swivel. It hurt my wrists and shoulders. I didn’t complain. They had the power. The unfairness of the criminal justice system was very evident to me in the details of how people accused of a crime are treated.  I was held, questioned, processed for 8 hours in a dog cage. Chain-link fence and a bench not long enough to lay down on. Not allowed to wear shoes. The concrete floor pulled the heat out of me.  I’m not complaining but I was cold and hungry. No windows in the room. It kind of made you dizzy. It would instill fear and a sense of powerlessness to most.  Under these conditions I faced my first opponent in the criminal justice system: the Capitol Police.  

Able to bond out for $50. I chose to stay in jail. I was fed a McDonald’s cheeseburger. Transported to a Bloomfield jail where I was given a table cloth, they called a blanket.  Again, not complaining just stating facts. I was cold all night to the point where I basically could not sleep. 

About 5 a.m. I was instructed to get up. Pissed with two guard standing right behind me.  Fed Dunkin Donuts in the back of the cruiser.

Taken to “lock-up” under court. Cuffed and shackled. Loaded into holding pens with other men, like cattle.  We all sat on concrete block benches for hours and waited. I was cold. The concrete sucked the heat right out of me.  A toilet paper blanket was sounding pretty good.  But the old man had a new, better idea. Similarly amusing.

Sitting on the toilet. Pants around his ankles. His feet, knees, and head poked out of the cinder block privacy wall.  “Guard. Guard! let’s get some sandwiches and juice up in here!”  He exclaimed.

“There’s always one.”

“Yup always one,” two men who were apparently regulars conferred.  But soon they too were echoing the request to passing marshals. 

Cold, tired, hungry.  It is under these conditions one is asked to face their next well-fed, well-rested, warm opponent. State Prosecutors. These attorneys seem to view their job as a competitive sport. But is it even a competition? No. Justice. Justice would seem to demand a level playing field

I’d entered the criminal justice system willingly and at my strongest. Young, healthy — physically and mentally — financially-able, and white.  The dozens other people locked up with me that day had clearly been dealt tougher hands. We all shared a number of (avoidable) gross disadvantages. 

I fought my way through the system, representing myself, and a few months later, today, I faced a state prosecutor one last time.  He was sitting in a padded chair.  Across the desk. On my side of the desk, an identical padded chair. We were in the court room. I pulled it out and began to sit so I could present him the documentation of the restitution I had paid.  

“Oh no no no.” He said. “We’re not sitting.” He laughed dismissively.  Like it was funny that I would consider sitting in the chair on my side of the desk… with him… like we were equals. 

It was a fitting end to my most recent trip through the criminal justice system in Connecticut. 

But a fitting end to this story is that the judicial marshals, the people who handled and moved the prisoners under the court, were genuinely kind, calm, caring, patient, and compassionate. They treated everyone with respect. Hartford prosecutors and Capitol Police could learn a thing or two from them.

Kevin Blacker
Noank, CT